Jeremy Olsen did it his way, using carefully crafted post moves to befuddle Washington State defenders in the paint. His footwork was immaculate, his touch baby soft. Utah’s sophomore center scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds by being cerebral.
Dallin Bachynski did it another way. He grabbed offensive rebounds. He connected on put-backs, using his size and strength to muscle WSU players close to the basket. He scored 10 points and grabbed three rebounds with his athleticism.
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Together, they helped Utah dominate in an 81-63 win that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. But the game within revealed a startling statistic that gave Utah the impetus for a rout. The Utes scored 42 points in the paint, more than half their final score. Washington State countered with just 18. All of which means Utah manufactured easy baskets, while the Cougars had to work for everything they got.
"I think Utah deserves a lot of credit," WSU coach Ken Bone said. "They played a very good game. I loved their energy and toughness on both ends. They executed, and they got inside on us. When we clamped down, they hit threes. They scored very well on us and they were hard to stop."
The points in the paint came in a variety of ways. There was Olsen and Bachynski. Delon Wright slashed his way through the defense for layups. Princeton Onwas got out on the fast break forlayups. There was Jordan Loveridge on post-ups and dives to the rim.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak emphasizes scoring in the paint. He preaches playing inside-out offensively, and says that it makes the game easy. That was certainly the case Saturday night.
"I thought we had a big edge in the paint," Krystkowiak said. "We’ve done a decent job letting our bigs get to work down low. I thought we went out and finished pretty well in transition. I like our ability to shoot the 3-pointer, but we can’t rely on that. A nice blend is what we need."
Now, the Utes travel to Los Angeles to face USC and UCLA. With a 5-6 record in the Pac-12, Utah has a chance to make a move up in the league. But first, Krystkowiak’s crew must figure out a way to win on the road, something it hasn’t done yet this season.
"It’s a big game for us," junior forward Princeton Onwas said. "We don’t like losing and we just want to get better. We have to figure out a way to get some road wins."
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